Project Type: Transmission reinforcement
Location: Highland

Contact Details

Liaison Manager

Sharon Powell
Mobile: 07918305099
Address: Lerwick Power Station, Gremista, Lerwick, Shetland, ZE1 0PS

Land Manager

Ali MacLeod
Title: Land Manager
Mobile: 07500 912996
Address: 10 Henderson Road, Inverness, IV1 1SN
Status: Construction Phase

About the project

To enable a proposed subsea transmission cable from Shetland to connect to the UK National Grid, we are proposing to construct an HVDC switching station north of Wick in Caithness. 

We have developed and successfully gained an outline planning permission to construct an HVDC Switching Station which will connect to the HVDC system that is currently being installed between Caithness and Moray. This arrangement makes use of capacity available in the Caithness-Moray subsea cable to allow onward connection to the existing onshore transmission network in Moray with minimum new infrastructure.

The switching station will allow the flow of electricity to be managed between three underground HVDC circuits - one from a converter station at Spittal in Caithness, one from a converter station at Kergord in Shetland and one to a converter station at Blackhillock in Moray.

Why is the project required?

We are required to develop proposals to accommodate new sources of electricity generation seeking to connect to our network. In response to generators seeking to connect in Shetland, we are proposing to install a new High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission cable which would connect the islands to the Great Britain electricity system for the first time. HVDC technology makes it possible to transmit electricity efficiently across the distances involved in connecting Shetland, which is located about 170 kilometres north of mainland Scotland.

To find out more about the Shetland HVDC link, please visit the dedicated project webpage:


The data in this map is provided for indicative purposes only and may be subject to change. Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc do not accept responsibility for its accuracy, completeness or validity. The data should not be copied, reproduced or utilised externally without permission.

Who is Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks?

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks is the trading name of Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution Limited, Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc, Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution plc and Southern Electric Power Distribution plc.

How are Transmission network upgrades paid for?

Investments in projects are made by SHE Transmission plc. Electricity transmission companies are authorised to recover the costs of such investments through 'use of system' charges which are levied by National Grid Electricity Transmission plc on generators and suppliers of electricity. Suppliers recover their costs from all electricity customers. In order to protect the interests of customers, the transmission companies have to demonstrate to the energy regulator, Ofgem (Office for Gas and Electricity Markets) that proposed investments are necessary, are efficient and are economical so that the charges which are ultimately levied on all electricity customers are justified.

This means SHE Transmission is subject to a funding mechanism established by Parliament and regulated by Ofgem. Cross subsidies between different businesses in the SSE group is not permitted.

How are proposals scrutinised?

The Scottish Ministers are responsible for determination of applications submitted under Section 37 of the Electricity Act 1989. Both statutory consultees and members of the public have the right to submit their representations on the application. All representations will be considered by Scottish Ministers in their determination of the application.
The Office for Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), as the regulator, has to approve all investment so project proposals are developed under license conditions.
Preferred route corridors chosen will comply with revised ‘Holford Rules’ which are the recognised industry approach to routeing overhead lines amended to reflect Scottish circumstances.

How and to what extent are electricity consumers' interests considered?

SHE Transmission are regulated by the Office for Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), the regulator responsible for representing consumers' interests. Electricity consumer interests are therefore one of our key drivers and this is enshrined in our statutory duties under the Electricity Act.

In particular we have a statutory duty to develop, maintain and operate an efficient, economic and co-ordinated transmission system. Since the costs of these projects will ultimately be paid for by electricity consumers, we have a responsibility to take cost into account with due weighting in a comparison against other important factors.

What is the transmission network?

It’s the highest voltage electricity network in the UK – the ‘motorway network’ of the energy world. It transmits large quantities of electricity over long distances via wires carried on a system of mainly metal towers (pylons) and large substations. Transmission voltages in Scotland are 132kV, 275kV and 400kV. Larger generation schemes usually connect to the Transmission system.

The lower voltage parts of the system are called distribution networks. In Scotland, these local networks operate below 132kV whereas in England the distribution network includes 132kV. 

Shetland Newsletter Issue 4 October 2021

SSEN Transmission have published its fourth project newsletter, giving you an insight into what has been happening on the site. The newsletter can be downloaded from the project documentation section of this website.

Newsletter launched

To give you an insight into what has been happening on the site, SSEN Transmission have published its first project newsletter on the Noss Head HVDC Switching Station. The newsletter will share an overview of the works underway and keep you updated with the project’s progress over the next four years. A copy of this can be found under the project documentation section of this website.

Contract Award

A contract for the design and construction of the Caithness HVDC Switching Station at Noss Head was awarded at the end July-2020 to Principal Contractor Messrs BAM Nuttall Ltd. BAM Nuttall Ltd are an experienced Principal Contractor who have an already long-term working relationship with SSEN Transmission delivering in excess of 12 new substations in Moray and the west of Scotland under a five-year framework and have also work in joint venture with other parties to complete Melgarve 400/132KV substation, Rothienorman 275/33Kv substation and Stronelarig 132/33KV substation in the Scottish Highlands for SSEN Transmission. In addition, BAM Nuttall Ltd completed works on the Operation & Maintenance base within Wick Harbour which is the main hub to support the Beatrice Wind Farm.

SSEN Transmission welcomes today’s decision by Ofgem to approve the 600MW HVDC transmission link connecting Shetland to the GB mainland

Find out more

SSEN welcome decision by the Highland Council to approve planning for Caithness HVDC switching station

Commenting on the outcome of today’s Highland Council planning committee decision for the Caithness HVDC switching station, Craig Taylor, Project Manager for Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, said: “We welcome today’s decision by the Highland Council to approve our planning application for the Caithness HVDC switching station. As a responsible developer we have gone through a rigorous development process, taking into account a range of technical, environmental and economic considerations to help inform the identification of a suitable location and design, which has been carefully designed to minimise the visual impact of the development in the surrounding area.”

Planning Application to The Highland Council

An application has been made to The Highland Council Planning Department, in principle, for the Caithness HVDC Switching Station. The application can be viewed and commented upon via The Highland Council planning portal, reference number 16/04505/PIP.

Document downloads

Shetland Newsletter Issue 4 October 2021

Related Projects: Shetland, Shetland Renewable Connections

File Type: pdf
Published: 25 Oct 2021
Noss Head HVDC Switching Station Newsletter
Noss Head HVDC Switching Station Newsletter

Related Projects: Caithness HVDC Switching Station

File Type: pdf
Published: 26 Mar 2021

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